Monday, April 30, 2012


I'm not sure whether it's because enough readers were generous with their time and clicked away madly on the link in my earlier post, or if the site was simply going to give me some gallery space in due time... but either way, thank you!

My gallery 'opened' last week. If you're curious, click here to browse.

It almost seems too easy. Really, it amounts to me sitting passively on my butt and letting a third party take care of the business of hosting my chosen images and - if I'm lucky and someone wants to put one of my photos on their wall - organising the canvas printing, shipping and payments.

The photos I've chosen would have otherwise just been sitting on my phone and Instagram account. What else was I going to do with them? Why not take advantage, and do a little role play of being an artist? Have some fun?

So there you have it. Who knows whether anyone will buy one of my images, but I can go to sleep at night, telling myself that my art is on display. What's not to love about that?

The teenaged dreamer in me could not be happier.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Just for a day

If I've learned anything over the last three months, it's that I'd been deluding myself for years about how often I can eat exactly what takes my fancy. Sure, when I was breastfeeding I could get away with consuming vast amounts of carbs and sugar... but my eating habits had already been that way for many years. I do love a good pastry, but it's taken me twenty years to accept I don't have the same metabolism I did when I was sixteen. Well, I've actually known that for a long time, but it didn't change the way I ate.

Last time I checked, I was nearly 10 kg down from what I weighed in January, so I'm in a happy place. I don't deny myself the yummy things - but instead of eating them whenever the mood strikes, I've imposed control over exactly how much and when.

Since educating myself about just how many calories are in some of my favourite foods, I won't ever view them in the same light. It feels a little like a loss of innocence, but I'm okay with that. I'd rather be healthier... and I'm also a firm believer that anything in moderation is fine. I'm just more selective now.

Even though I recently gave myself a break (for my birthday) from the calorie-counting and exercise - and enjoyed that day immensely - I wouldn't mind another day like that. Hypothetically, if I could eat whatever I wanted for a day, without gaining an ounce, here's what I'd eat:

(oink oink)

Breakfast would include a generous helping of Kellogg's Crunchy Nut Flakes - it's probably been years since I ate those on a regular basis. Followed by... pancakes? Waffles? Nope. I would have French toast, topped with bacon (or banana) and maple syrup. Chased back with a creamy cafe latte, Aussie-style.

Lunch would be a no-brainer. In-N-Out, all the way, baby. A cheeseburger, 'Animal Style' fries, and a chocolate shake. How on earth did I live thirty-something years without In-N-Out?

Dinner... there's too much to choose. Chipotle? They do a damn good burrito. Then again, I love pizza, gourmet-style. And don't get me started on pasta. Ultimately, if a meal has salmon, prawns, or goats cheese? I'm in.

Cheese. I love cheese. Any cheese (unless it's brightly orange-coloured - I don't understand why American cheddar has to be dyed such an artificial shade - wrongtown). On this hypothetical day, much cheese would be consumed. Grilled cheese on toast, cheese and crackers - heaven.

Throughout this day, I would also be doing my best Nancy Botwin impersonation, straw-sipping on giant cups of lemonade from Wetzel's Pretzels. It is the best - and probably unhealthiest - lemonade I've ever tasted.

Once the evening arrived, I'd be cracking open a bottle (or two) or Oyster Bay's Sauvignon Blanc - to accompany my cheese and crackers, naturally. I'd also hit my recently-acquired stash of Aussie chocolate goodness that was sent to me for my birthday.

At some point during this day, I'd have called in at Porto's, a local Cuban bakery, and bought some
refugiados - otherwise known as guava cream cheese strudels. Just the thought makes my mouth water. Oh, and potato balls - kind of like small, spicy balls of shephard's pie, crumbed and deep-fried. So fattening, they're good... trust me.

I'm not fussy when it comes to carbs and pastries, though. I'd be equally happy to have eclairs, hot cross buns or Portuguese tarts. All are guaranteed to make me happy.

Last treat before bed would be ice cream. I'm not actually a big ice cream person, but there are a few types that I can't say no to. Ben & Jerry's is one brand. Or a Magnum Ego. Or - my most recent discovery - Trader Joe's Sublime Ice Cream Sandwich.

(Photo source)

Then? After so much cheese and chocolate consumption? Based on previous experience, let the crazy lady dreams begin...

Linking up with Mama Kat's writing prompt:
If you had one day to eat anything you want and not gain a single ounce what would it be? 

Click here for link

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekend wishing

Too often, I find my weekends passing by in a blur - not because we've been incredibly busy, but because we've been relaxing - only to realise on Sunday afternoon that we should have actually done something more worthwhile with our time. There is so much to see and do in California, that even if we were to just focus on places within a few hours' drive of home, we'd be busy for a long time to come.

My obsession with Pinterest peaked some time ago, but one board that's had me pinning regularly is the one I have to remind me of places we want to see within California (and L.A.). Yesterday I printed the compilation out, stuck it in a cheap IKEA frame that's been sitting around, and hung it near the kitchen so that next time we find ourselves twiddling our thumbs, or with a little money aside for a night's accommodation, the inspiration will be be right under our noses.

Whether it's somewhere nearby - just for an afternoon - or a little further out for a couple of days, here's a sample of what's on my list:

Big Sur
Source: via Kristen Pinkham on Pinterest

Hearst Castle
Source: via Jill Braun on Pinterest

Santa Barbara
Source: via k krantz on Pinterest 

Palm Springs
Source: via Christina Hjorth on Pinterest

Joshua Tree National Park
Source: LA Times

Echo Park, LA
Source: via Marc Loresto on Pinterest

Getty Villa, Malibu
Source: LA Times 

One of the many Redwood forests
Source: via Maddie Burke on Pinterest

Yosemite National Park
Source: via Sharon Yates Mayhack on Pinterest

This is only a fraction of what's on the list - it should keep us busy, right? Not to mention all the fabulous photo opportunities. Stay tuned...

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Like millions of people, as a child I dreamed of being an artist one day. I'd always loved drawing and painting, and even from a young age I was aware of the soothing effects they had on me. I didn't care about being famous; I just wanted to be able to sell some of my art. As a teenager, photography also got its claws into me and I began fantasising about selling my photos one day.

Like millions of people, I didn't exactly follow these dreams. I've always enjoyed doing creative things, but my artistic skills have stayed in the amateur ranks. I have fun with it, and now and then I produce a little something with a 'WOW' factor to it.

If you've been reading my recent posts, you'll know that I've developed somewhat of an addiction to Instagram on my iPhone. This week, has come to my attention - it's a site which allots space to people to sell some of their Instagram photos on canvases. It's a brilliant idea, but there's a catch: a 'gallery' (a personalised URL) will only open if enough other people visit the URL and request a gallery.

I want in.

Purely for fun. You never know, somewhere amongst the millions of people in this world, someone might see one of my photos and want to hang it on their wall. That would be dream-fulfilling stuff for me.

So, this is where I need you to help. I'll pop a link under the image below, and all you need to do is click. Once the page comes up, simply click on the yellow button to 'Request Gallery Opening'. Easy!

I have no idea what kind of numbers are involved, or how popular one has to be in this cyber world... but it's worth a try, right?

Time to pimp myself out and make this happen. Excuse me while I head over to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest. If you're feeling generous, multiple clicks would make me love you even more. 

Thank you!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Enter the fourth dragon cycle

Since joining a gym at the end of January, I've been pretty strict without myself. Going three times a week, keeping a food diary and - for the first time in my life - counting calories. I have a severely sweet tooth and am unwilling to completely cut out the sweet treats... but I'm definitely eating a lot less of them. I'm incredibly stubborn and I'm discovering this is working to my advantage.

It's working, and so far I've lost 7.5 kg (16.5 lbs). Come summer, and I may even consider wearing dresses that reveal more than just my ankles. I've always been more of a jeans girl, but I feel like it's time to mix things up a little.

On Sunday, I gave myself a break for the day. Instead of a light breakfast, I feasted with my family at a local spot that we've been meaning to try for ages. My usual Sunday gym visit was replaced with a leisurely stroll around Descanso Gardens - sunshine and tulips galore. I have a thing for tulips. This was followed by a session of child-free, selfish clothes shopping for me - to replace some of my threads that are getting a little baggy. And for the entire day? I ate and drank whatever the hell I wanted. Bliss.

Why the day of indulgence? It was my birthday and you only turn thirty-six once, right? I know I've said it before, but this Year of the Dragon - my year - is full of promise. So far, so good...

Friday, April 13, 2012


I got nothin'.

Well, I do have a few half-written posts in my head, but it's Spring Break here at the moment... meaning? My usual concentrated internet time (when Miss Pie naps while the Faery is at school) has been non-existent. I've been reduced to sneaky turns on Words with Friends on my phone, and a bit of reading, but that's about it.

Anyway... I'm not complaining. It's just been a different programme for me this week, and I'm not feeling particularly inspired. Next week, right?

In the mean time, I'll leave you with thoughts of the generous offer I received from Groupon today. Their discounts frequently feature colonic irrigation and Botox - neither of which is my cup of tea, but hey, each to their own.

You know you live in L.A. when these kind of offers are a regular thing.

Maybe I'll treat myself for my birthday this weekend... nope. Who am I kidding? I'm okay with my wrinkles. Oh, and the ability to express myself through use of my facial muscles. I actually see enough frozen foreheads around, and it is not a good look.

Monday, April 9, 2012

All Spring and no action

How was your Easter weekend?

We don't do the church thing. No elaborate hauls of gifts either. 

The weather was glorious - naturally - so there was poolside frolicking (J and the girls), poolside chilling (me), egg hunting (the girls), ice cream consumption (the girls)... not to mention chocolate and hot cross buns devoured (all of us).

This was our third Easter, States-side and there are a few things I'm used to now. Little plastic eggs to fill with treasures and sweets for the egg hunt, hot cross buns sugar-fied the American way with icing on top, and the fact that it's spring - although that itself never felt unusual after having also lived in the UK.

Only a few elements still seem strange. Both Good Friday and Easter Monday are regular days here. I prefer the four-day weekends that Australians and Brits enjoy. Also, that hot cross buns aren't abundant - at least not where we live. I miss being able to pick up warm, fresh batches from any bakery... or even just throwing a few half-dozen packs into my trolley at the regular supermarket.

All in all, though, our weekend was perfect. There is nothing quite like the excitement of small children who still believe in the magic of the Easter Bunny... I'll be sad when that stage passes.

Hope your weekend was just as lovely as ours.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Instagram of the Week

What's not to love about this shot? We'd been having a play at the local park, and her hair was going crazy with static every time she went down the slide. My intention had been to capture just that - the spikes of hair standing on end - but instead, I got this winning smile. Natural smiles seem to be more difficult to capture as she gets older; more often than not, I get a stiffly self-conscious grimace.

Even better, I have thirty seconds of footage that was taken not long after this photo. The girls are playing together on the slide when the sound of an ice cream truck becomes louder in the distance. There's a moment where the Faery's ears pick up, her posture straightens as she realises what the music means, and she starts jumping up and down excitedly for ice cream - and I initially say no, resulting in some petulant pleading and bottom lip protrusion.

Click here for link

I was going to share this shot for Wordless Wednesday, but then I saw another one of Mama Kat's writing prompts (Share a photo you took with Instagram this week and tell us what you love about it) and realised this was actually perfect to link up with. Yes, it's been a while, and now I'm doing two in the same week - what is the world coming too? Is this cheating? Anyhow...

PS - The Faery totally got an ice cream in the end. After she carried on with some serious whining (reason enough to say no), I looked around and saw how many other kids were getting ice creams, and suddenly felt hideously mean. Too easy.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tom and I

Over the years, I've had a bit of a love affair with books written by Tom Robbins. His stories are nutty, colourful, and transport me to places that could normally only be reached by smoking a little too much of the green stuff.

The books of his that I've read have been spaced far apart, at various points in my life.

I began with Even Cowgirls Get the Blues when I was living in London and working behind a bar. Couldn't put it down.

A few years later, a worn copy of Still Life with Woodpecker came into my possession, courtesy of a backpacking hostel I was staying at. I couldn't put it down.

When I was living in Melbourne and a new library branch opened - conveniently - just a block away from the school I taught at in the CBD, Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates helped the tram ride commute pass quickly. I couldn't put it down.

Then only last year, I felt the pull to read another one of his books, so asked around to see what people's favourite Tom Robbins book was. The answer was fairly unanimous: Jitterbug Perfume. I ordered it from Amazon, and once it was in my hands, I couldn't put it down.

So when our tiny local library branch closed down for renovations recently, I was more than excited to discover that the second closest branch is, in fact, massive. An entirely separate (large) room for the children's section, complete with toys - win! - well away from the rest of the library. Miss Pie can run crazy in that section, and no one is disturbed.

After our first visit there, on our way out, it occurred to me that I should grab a book for myself too. We were passing through the adult section and I looked up, realising that we were right by the R authors. A no brainer. Tom Robbins, here I come! I grabbed a copy of Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas and left.

That night, I opened it up with anticipation. All his books had been a fabulous ride and it was time for another.

I wanted to love it. I wanted to like it... but I struggled. The second person narrative, in present tense, made me feel as though I was reading one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books from when I was eight years old: "You walk into the next room and see a cupboard. What do you do? You open it (go to page 37) or you walk back out of the room (go to page 22)."

I tried so hard to like it, but when bedtime came, I found myself making excuses and spending time online instead. Before I knew it, three weeks had passed and the book was due. I'd read maybe twenty pages, but not wanting to admit defeat, I renewed the book.

A second chance, yet I put off reading it again. Another week passed before I picked it up. I struggled on for another twenty or so pages, and then it was due again. I'd had the book for six weeks, and still hadn't delved into it. I did what any self-respecting person would do, and renewed the book one final time (the library's policy is a maximum of two renewals).

A final chance to finish the book, once and for all. I made another effort and although none of the characters were likeable, every now and then I was rewarded by a line - even a paragraph - that was pure Tom Robbins and needed to be rolled around in my head several times before continuing, much in the same way I savour good chocolate or wine.

Silly me, though. I didn't read it every night, and it only began to get interesting in the final week that I had it. I was less than a third of a way through it - there was no way I was going to finish it in time.

Nine weeks to read a single book? That's a pretty lame effort on my behalf. A book by anyone else, and I doubt I would have held on to it for so long. I usually know - within the first one or two pages - whether a book is worth my time or not, and there are few books I've given up on, several chapters in.

Tom Robbins and I - we'd had a good history together. I had every reason to believe the payoff would be on the next page... but it never came.

My choice was to either hang on to the book - and incur a substantial fine, perhaps another two months later - or admit defeat and return it. Although it just about killed my pride, I chose the latter.


This sad little tale will be linking up this week with Mama Kat's writing prompt:

Book review time! Some people STILL read books…share one of your more recent reads and tell us what you thought!

Click here for link

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Stone

When the Faery was younger, she was obsessed with rocks. I was constantly finding little stones in her pockets - or the bottom of the washing machine. Everywhere we walked, she had to stop and inspect any potentially interesting stone or rock that crossed her path. Often, the ones she selected were nothing more than broken pieces of cement, but she'd insist on adding them to her collection nonetheless.

Three months before we moved to Los Angeles, it was her fourth Christmas. My sister-in-law gave her a small pouch that was filled with tumbled gemstones and crystals, and carefully explained the properties of each stone. The Faery listened carefully as her aunt told her that when she feels sad, holding the rose quartz could help her feel better because it can help with depression.

Since then, she's always kept her gemstones tucked away in a safe place and - on occasion, when she's been upset about something - I've found her clutching the rose quartz.

Last week, as Miss Pie was having a particularly horrendous meltdown, I heard the door to the girls' closet bang, then the Faery emerged with her rose quartz and placed it into Miss Pie's hands.

Miss Pie stopped howling, instantly. After all, no one had ever handed her a pretty pink stone before. In fact, she's usually discouraged from playing with small stones - this is the same kid who has lodged sultanas up her nostril, after all. I had good reason to limit her access to such small items.

The Faery's eyes just about popped out of her head. "Why is the stone so magic, Mum? Look! I gave it to her, and she stopped crying straight away!"

I didn't have it in me to explain the most likely reason why she'd stopped crying was simply because she'd never been handed something like that to actually hold before; that it was probably more to do with the novelty factor than any sweet act of thoughtfulness on the Faery's behalf.

This wasn't the first time she'd pulled out the rose quartz for someone else - last year when J found out about the unexpected death of an old friend, the Faery fetched her pink stone for him to hold. It was the one of the sweetest gestures I think I've ever witnessed.

This amazing little soul... where did she come from?